Song of Solomon Chapter 5: The Great Multitude or Foolish VirginsJan 12th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Song of Solomon, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Song of Solomon Chapter 5: The Great Multitude or Foolish Virgins
Song 5:1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse.” The Church is complete beyond the veil, and Jesus has come into his garden. He likens this class to his sister and his spouse. The Great Company is also a sister, but the Little Flock is a special sister. Coupling together the terms “sister” and “spouse” distinguishes the Little Flock from the Great Company.
Comment: Although far more numerous than the Little Flock, the Great Company are merely the “little sister.”
“I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.” These spices and foods were mentioned earlier in more detail.
“I have drunk my wine with my milk.” This combination needs a little discussion. We usually think of milk and honey. Normally “wine” pictures the joys and exhilaration of the truth, whereas “water” is more important initially when one is dying of thirst in a desert. “Milk” is basic doctrine, generally speaking. The sequence is interesting, for normally wine would have the priority.
Jesus continues to speak to the completed Bride: “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” In Song 5:1, the word “friends” would usually be thought of as female, but it is masculine plural in the Hebrew, which is most unusual. Moreover, the word “beloved” in the Song of Solomon consistently has a male singular ending because it is used by the Church to address Jesus. But here in verse 1, Jesus uses the masculine plural “beloved” to address the Church.
This use of the masculine harmonizes with the Pastor’s thinking that eventually in the Kingdom, the Bride will have the male gender. In the present life, the prospective Bride is regarded as female, and even in regard to the next age, Psalm 45:9 addresses the Bride with the collective noun “queen” (feminine). In addition to the masculine plural in Song 5:1, the Prophet Isaiah tells that Jesus will share the spoils with the “strong” (masculine) ones. “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12). And in a future application, the Little Flock are considered “brethren.” These examples justify the Pastor’s conclusion that just as the angels now are all males, so the Church, when they have their change of nature and after the marriage, will be males.
Q: Please explain further how the Church can now be pictured as a Bride or a woman but one day will be masculine.
A: In Tabernacle Shadows, Bro. Russell stated that gender distinctions will cease for the human race at the end of the Kingdom Age and that people will be like Adam before Eve was taken from his side. At first, Adam was whole and a male, but he was divided into male and female when God took his rib to make Eve. The Scriptures support these thoughts with a little here and a little there, the Song of Solomon being one place. The Church is consistently described as female until Song 5:1, where twice the complete Church beyond the veil is described as male. Ultimately the Little Flock will all be masculine.
Q: Didn’t Adam originally have both male and female qualities? Then, when Eve was created, the female qualities were separated from him and given to her.
A: Yes, but Adam was still male originally. Before he was split, he was the man Adam with some female qualities, such as certain emotions. God is always male, and yet He has compassion like a woman—and so does Jesus. Paul had this quality too. In addition to his riven side on the Cross, Jesus had an unborn race in him, which is comparable to Adam’s side. Since God, Jesus, and the angels are all male, it is proper that the Little Flock be male also, even from the standpoint of their executive abilities and functions during the Kingdom Age, let alone throughout eternity.
Verse 1 is sandwiched in just before the sentiments of the Great Company, who will still be down here in the flesh needing development after the Church is complete. Hence verse 2 helps to give the time setting of verse 1.
“Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” This eating and drinking would not be at the marriage supper. In Scripture, there are several other suppers:
1. Marriage supper (Rev. 19:9).
2. A “feast of fat things,” the supper for the world in the Kingdom, starting with Israel (Isa. 25:6).
3. The feast, supper, and/or sacrifice of the birds (Ezek. 39:17-20). The Lord will invite vultures to clean up the mess resulting from the slaughter, desolation, trouble, and decease of the ungodly in the great Time of Trouble.
4. Special supper in heaven for The Christ. At the institution of the Memorial, Jesus said he would partake anew beyond the veil. Just as he partook of the emblems with the apostles at the First Advent, so the entire Church class will drink the fruit of the vine with him in heaven prior to the marriage supper—and hence before the Great Company is raised. “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).
Song 5:2 I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
The King James Version properly has a new paragraph here. Song 3:1,2 and 5:2-6 tell of two bedroom scenes. Chapter 3 gives the Little Flock’s attitude when they are awakened, and Chapter 5 contrasts the Great Company’s attitude when they are awakened. The Pastor’s writings furnish many clues and ideas, which, when collated, result in pictures that are tenfold clearer. Details and other truths are revealed in the collation.
These two bedroom scenes immediately remind us of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Both classes slept. When the parable is read, it sounds as if all of the virgins awake together, but that is not necessarily the case. “Behold the Bridegroom” is the invitation to the marriage. The parable says that all of the virgins awoke and that the foolish asked the wise for oil (information). The foolish virgins were advised to go back to the marketplace. Not only does a comparison of Song 3:1,2 and 5:2-6 reveal the attitude of the foolish virgin class and what their problem has been, but the two chapters show that the wise class will be awakened just a little before the foolish class.
After the Great Company get the oil, they give a very detailed description of Jesus (see Song 5:10-16). The description is interesting because they use more flowery language than the Little Flock. In fact, it would seem that the description could not be done better. However, it is one thing to praise with the lips and another thing to love deeply with the heart. This same attitude can be seen in the Book of Job with Elihu representing the Great Company. In some places, his language is high and flowery, and it is noticed by the world as being unusual, but when his words are analyzed, they are seen to be superficial, not based on proper reasoning, and very uncomplimentary of Job.
In verse 2, “beloved” is masculine singular referring to Jesus, as elsewhere in Song of Solomon except for verse 1, where it is masculine plural referring to the completed Bride.
In Chapter 5, with the exception of verse 1 and verse 9, which is an interjection, the Great Company speaks and speaks. This chapter provides interesting insight into the foolish virgins of the parable. In 1914, the ten virgins went forth to meet the Bridegroom, but he tarried. In other words, the false expectation did not materialize. Note: The presence did not tarry, just Jesus’ coming as the Bridegroom. Another point: all of the virgins fell asleep. In the Song of Solomon, both the wise and the foolish virgin classes are seen in bed. The difference is that the wise virgins wake up on their own and are thinking about Jesus. Then, of their own volition, they go out to look for him. In contrast, the foolish virgins need to be stirred up. When events become more and more pronounced that this is the end of the age, many who are lax in their consecration will become very zealous. If sincere, they will become like firebrands. After a period of sorrow and remorse, the Great Company class will rejoice—but too late to be of the Bride class. Both Habakkuk and the Book of Revelation show that the Great Company will change from a condition of mourning to a condition of joy. The foolish virgins will weep as they knock on the door and beseech to be let in.
“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me.” The Great Company class are speaking. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins shows that all are virgins, all of the virgins sleep, and all are awakened. Song 3:1,2 describes the wise class, and Song 5:2-6 pertains to the foolish class. How can the Great Company class “sleep,” but their “heart waketh”?
Comment: The Great Company “sleep” intellectually, but at heart, they love the Lord.
Comment: The Little Flock (in Chapter 3) voluntarily and zealously seek the Lord of their own volition, whereas the Great Company (in Chapter 5) need to be prompted or triggered by the Lord’s voice knocking.
Reply: A commentator likens the Great Company sleep to a stupor (as opposed to a sound sleep). Although drowsy and lethargic, they are thinking and troubled, nevertheless. When the rattling takes place at the handles of the door lock, they awaken. An example of this type of sleep occurred at the time of Jesus’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. The apostles fell asleep, yet John was able to quote the things Jesus said, the nature of his prayer, etc. However, in the case of the Great Company, an additional factor is indicated: negligence.
Q: How can we prove these verses in Chapter 5 pertain to the Great Company and not to the Bride? The terminology is similar to that used earlier for the Bride.
Comment: At first glance, it might seem that Jesus is speaking to the Bride in verse 2: “my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.” But in the previous chapter, Jesus repeatedly used “my spouse” to refer to the Bride. Song 5:1 gives the time setting—it shows the completion of the “spouse” class. Now in verse 2, Jesus is addressing a different class, a consecrated class who at heart love the Lord but cannot be of the Bride.
Reply: Yes, Jesus has already entered into his garden (verse 1), and now verse 2 starts a new phase. The “undefiled sister” would be the Great Company class, who are an object of Jesus’ love. Later on (Song 8:8), the Bride will refer to her “little sister” who “hath no breasts.” It is so self-evident that the Great Company are the subject here that saying why is difficult. Verse 3 clearly shows negligence, hesitation, nonreadiness, torpor—a secondary value. No matter how beautifully the little sister speaks later on, she is not of the category of the Bride class. In the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable, the wise virgins (“those that were ready”) enter in to the marriage immediately. The secondary class left behind, the foolish virgins, also try to get in, but they are not ready. They make excuses: “I washed my feet. I took off my housecoat. I am in bed.” Subsequently, they have second thoughts, but tardiness is the first reaction.
Comment: The Laodicean spirit is, “I am rich and in need of nothing.” The little sister is comfortable in her bed of ease. It would be a hardship or a chore for her to abruptly get up.
Comment: Verse 6 could only be the Great Company: “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone.” Great pathos is indicated here.
Reply: In the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable, Jesus says to the Great Company, “I know you not.” This is comparable to his “withdrawing” himself and being “gone.” In both the parable and here in Song of Solomon, two classes who sleep are shown.
“It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh.” Of course the Great Company’s “beloved” is Jesus, but how does a “voice” knock?
Comment: The knock comes through time prophecies.
Reply: Yes. In the Second Volume, Bro. Russell showed that the lock, the knock, is time prophecy. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
“[Jesus is] saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.” All of these terms can apply to the foolish virgin class because they are virgins and sisters, they are covered by the Ransom, and they are members of the household of faith (shown in the Passover picture). They do have the robe of Christ’s righteousness, even though they will have to wash off the spots in the tribulation. At heart, this class really want to do God’s will, but they have been tardy in some respects.
“My head is filled with dew, and my locks [curly hair] with the drops of the night.” Why is there a distinction? Perhaps the major reason is to refer to the time period at the end of the age. A dispensational aspect is shown—it is very early in the morning, which is when dew (condensation) forms.
Comment: The “dew” and the “drops of the night,” both being a form of water, represent present truth. Generally speaking, the Great Company is neglectful of present truth. She may have been zealously serving the Lord up to her level of understanding, but somewhere along the line, she has not perceived truth the way she should. She has not sufficiently partaken of the spiritual feast that is available here in the Harvest period.
Comment: The Church class was completed earlier (verse 1). Therefore, Jesus has been here all through the night, the Gospel Age, and his head is filled with water.
Reply: Yes, with dispensational truth.
The Great Company class will be changed just before Jacob’s Trouble—not just before the threat of trouble but the actual trouble itself. Because the Great Company are covered by the Ransom, the lien must be satisfied and they must be off the scene before Israel can be legally recognized. Hebrews 11:40 shows that the Church must be complete before the Ancient Worthies are resurrected (“they without us should not be made perfect”). The “us” would include the Great Company because the text is referring to the Ransom. The Ransom cannot be applied to the Ancient Worthies until all of the Gospel Age consecrated are off the scene.
Song 5:3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
This coat is not the robe of Christ’s righteousness, for to put off that robe would mean Second Death.
Comment: The coat is an outer garment that the little sister uses for activity, as opposed to just night clothes for a slumber position.
Reply: A person changes clothes to relax and go to bed. The emphasis is that the little sister went through this change, and now she would have to get dressed and put the coat back on.
Q: Isn’t she just making excuses for not putting forth extra effort?
A: The implication is that the little sister is not ready; she is not dressed to go to the door. She makes excuses. This fits in with the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable, for when both classes wake up, the foolish virgins recognize that their lamps are going out. They realize there is a need, a lack. “Give us of your oil,” they entreat.
Just from a natural standpoint, the little sister undresses, gets in bed for the night, is relaxed, and wants to go to sleep. She is not completely asleep but is thinking. Suddenly Jesus is at the door, but she delays, showing a lack of preparedness.
Comment: The following explanation was given in the 1976 study:
“I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?” The little sister does not exercise herself to respond and makes an excuse for not opening the door right away. To rise out of the warm bed would make her cold. It would inconvenience her and require sacrifice, so she hesitates.
“I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” Her feet were washed when she went to bed. Getting up to open the door would dirty them. She prayed, took off the outer garment, and went to bed. Then comes the knock. She willingly washed her feet the first time and does not want to get up now because she would have to
wash them again. The Bride would have exerted the extra effort.
Reply: Yes, the little sister shows the Laodicean spirit.
Song 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
The King James is good: “My bowels were moved for him.” Jesus’ putting “in his hand by the hole of the door” suggests that he rattles the door handle and (old-fashioned bolt) lock.
Song 5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweetsmelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
After Jesus rattles the door handle and lock and disappears, the fragrance of the myrrh from his hand is left behind. A fragrance remains on the lock, so that when the little sister finally opens the door, the sweet smell of myrrh gets on her hands. The fragrance intensifies her feelings when she discovers Jesus’ absence.
Usually we think of myrrh as meaning “bitter experiences,” but here myrrh indicates the spirit of repentance. The little sister now feels the loss or the lack, and the residual fragrance makes her sense of loss more acute—that because of her tardiness, Jesus was not at the door (of her heart) when she opened it. Her remorse and anguish create in her a desire to do better, and the only way she can do better under this circumstance is to go out into the night (the marketplace in the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable) and search for Jesus.
After the Church class are gone and the Great Company realize more fully what Jesus did for them in suffering the ignominious death on the Cross—when they reflect on the beauties and excellencies of Jesus’ love in even coming to the door for them and knocking—they will be repentant. Had they remained asleep, had Jesus not awakened them, they would have gone into Second Death. Hence they will be remorseful that they delayed their response and were negligent.
“Sweetsmelling myrrh” indicates that this type of myrrh evokes a feeling of loss in regard to the Master. The loss is like the silence of the “half hour”: “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (Rev. 8:1). The Great Company will have a double experience, as shown in Habakkuk 3:17,18. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Despondency and sorrow will be changed into joy. The Habakkuk change matches the description in Song 5:10-16. The little sister misses out on the opportunity to be of the Bride, but she joyously praises Jesus later. Indeed her comments seem to exceed those of the Bride—but too late!
Comment: The fact that the flowery words spoken of Jesus are uttered by the Great Company class in verses 10-16 (and not by the Church) is substantiated in the Book of Job. There Elihu, picturing the Great Company class, overspeaks.
Reply: Yes, and so much so that many have given Elihu great credit, but much is wanting in his character and disposition, as revealed by his own words.
Comment: The foolish virgins need, but do not have, a sufficiency of oil in their lamps to go out at night to search for Jesus. The Bridegroom comes at the midnight hour—nighttime.
Song 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
“I [the Great Company] opened [the door] to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone.” Earlier the Bride class got up of her own initiative, opened the door, went out to search for Jesus, and found him. Jesus did not have to knock for the Bride class. Only the Great Company needs the alarm.
IMPORTANT: When current events match prophecy in a vivid fashion, many will wake up who were previously sluggish in serving the Lord.
The Great Company class hear the voice but do not open the door. This reaction suggests that at the end of the age, all Christians will have at least one opportunity—and probably two or three opportunities—to know present truth. How they respond is another matter. Christians in Babylon will hear, and so will the ones outside of Babylon.
“My beloved … was gone.” During Jesus’ absence, the marriage takes place and the Church is being honored in heaven. The absence is related to the half hour of silence (Rev. 8:1). The Great Company class will not be present at the wedding but will attend the marriage supper. “My soul failed when he spake.” Jesus is now gone, but earlier the Great Company, the little sister, made excuses and was not ready to respond to the voice of her Beloved. Here she is reminiscing about how foolish she was in not responding faster.
“I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.” When the foolish virgins knocked on the door to be let in, the door remained shut, but they did hear, “I know you not.” Revelation 19:9 shows that when the Bride class is complete, a voice from heaven will say, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” In other words, the answer regarding the marriage will be negative, but there is hope. All is not lost, for even though the remaining consecrated lose out on the high calling, they have the hope of being of the secondary class. And the spiritual reward for the Great Company is a better hope than that for the world, who will have only an earthly restitution hope.
The Great Company will have a waiting experience, but eventually they will get an answer regarding the marriage supper. It is a delayed answer.
Comment: Revelation 4:1 shows the difference between the Little Flock and the Great Company. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither [higher], and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” The John class are told to “come up higher,” and the feet members exert extra effort to obtain prophetic understanding of the time prophecies. Generally speaking, the Great Company class do not seek such information.
Song 5:7 The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
Song 5:8 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.
Who are the “watchmen” of verse 7?
Comment: One possibility is that the watchmen are in the nominal Church, and another possibility is that they are in natural Israel.
Reply: One thing we know for sure, the “watchmen” are not the Great Company.
The time setting of verses 7 and 8 must be established. Because of the dispensational character and the progression developing in the Song of Solomon, the time setting when the Great Company respond to Jesus’ knock on the door will be at a rather late date. The Little Flock will all be beyond the veil at this time. But there is a problem. A short time after the Church is complete, Babylon will fall. The time frame of verse 7 is after the door is closed, after the Church is complete beyond the veil, and certainly before the Great Company class receive their change, for they subsequently go into a eulogy concerning the various graces, attributes, moral character, and beauties of Jesus.
In verse 8, the Great Company are addressing the “daughters of Jerusalem,” who can be equated to the “watchmen” and the “keepers of the walls.” (The Hebrew word for “keepers of the walls” is the same as that for “watchmen.”) Equating these three terms pushes the setting for verses 7 and 8 further ahead on the stream of time. We know the time setting is after the closing of the door, but the question is how much after? When will the Great Company arise from bed, go out, and meet these watchmen, these keepers of the walls, who harass and smite them but not unto death? Even though in most instances in the Bible, the word “smite” means “kill” or “destroy,” there are a few exceptions, such as here.
“The keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” The watchmen, the keepers of the walls, whoever they are, take the veil away from the Great Company class. What does that act constitute?
Q: Would the removal of the veil expose the fact that the Great Company have not been as faithful as those of the Bride class?
Comment: The veil over the eyes of the Great Company will be removed so that they see who and where they are.
Reply: A custom of the Middle East is for women to wear a veil over part of their face. The force of pulling away the veil depends on the context. For instance, when Babylon’s skirts are pulled away, the meaning is that its sins will be exposed, and Babylon’s exposure will lead to its downfall (Nah. 3:5). But here in the Song of Solomon, when the Great Company’s veil is taken away, the result is that they will earnestly and zealously search for Jesus.
Q: The Great Company are thought of as being fearful, so would this veil be something they have hidden behind (Heb. 2:15)? With the veil being removed, it would be clear that they are of the secondary company and not of the Bride class.
Q: In some way, will the watchmen cause the Great Company to reveal their true nature—that they have longings for the Master but have not been faithful enough to be of the Bride? The “smiting” would bring to the forefront the true disposition of the Great Company and make them repentant in their realization that they have lost out on the opportunity to be of the Bride. The Great Company would be smitten and wounded in conscience.
Reply: The answer is a little of all of these comments.
Notes from the 1976 study read as follows:
There is a limitation here based on other Scriptures; that is, the watchmen, the keepers of the walls, wound and smite, but they do not kill. First, they persecute the Great Company, but later they ask questions and get interested. Their initial response is sarcastic, but Song 6:1 shows they become interested and want to go along with the Great Company. In other words, the “watchmen” class end up semiconverted—after wounding the Great Company.
The persecution unto death of the true Church, induced by Papacy (and Protestantism), will be at the hands of the governments. The Great Company will not be in this experience of the wise virgins because of compromise in some way. Although the Great Company will receive some persecution, they will not be killed at this time because they are not considered as dangerous. For example, when Jesus was apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, his disciples would have been arrested and killed too if they had been as zealous.
IMPORTANT: The “daughters of Jerusalem,” or “watchmen” class, change from the worldly element in the Church (nominal Christians—see Song 1:5 and 2:7) to natural Israel. Having the Scriptures (the Old Testament) puts natural Israel in the role of “watchmen.” (This change is similar to that in the Elisha picture. Elisha as a type changes from the Great Company to the Ancient Worthies.)
In the nominal system at the end of the age, certain individuals will respond to present truth in some way, just as a few Pharisees, such as Nicodemus, believed Jesus and revealed their belief under either duress or darkness. Joseph of Arimathea, who begged for Jesus’ body and offered his own tomb, was not a strong follower earlier, but when the chips were down, he came forth boldly. The same will be true of the Great Company when they are separated from the feet members. In some ways, persecution is good for the Church.
In verse 8, the Great Company are speaking. Formerly lethargic, they are now boldly proclaiming (like the Little Flock earlier). Elisha gets a like portion of Elijah’s spirit. The foolish virgins get the oil. The Great Company are now lovesick (like the Church earlier).
Thus the Great Company will have a role in enlightening Israel. Some blindness will be removed when the full number of the Gentiles (the Little Flock) is complete. Blindness will be removed from the conscientious Jews who are “watching.”
IMPORTANT: A primary purpose of the Little Flock is to acquaint and educate the Great Company to give a message later.
IMPORTANT: The “daughters of Jerusalem” will eventually be the Holy Remnant.
As shown in verse 7, the daughters of Jerusalem initially smite the Great Company.
When the Great Company first try to communicate to this prospective Holy Remnant, they are rebuffed. The Jews have a natural antipathy for Jesus, a prejudice, but the Great Company will persist. After a while, the conscientious Jews will listen and eventually get interested.
The “veil” is a “mantle” (RSV) or a shawl that can serve as a veil. How do the “keepers of the walls” take away the Great Company’s veil? When the little sister searches for Jesus, the daughters of Jerusalem are rude in exposing her hypocrisy, but she is not discouraged and speaks even stronger. Seeing her sincerity, the Jews become interested in her message. In spite of the mistreatment, she keeps talking—until they listen.
IMPORTANT: The veil being taken away from the Great Company by the watchmen ties in with Elisha’s shame before the sons of the prophets. “And they [the sons of the prophets] said unto him [Elisha], Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master [Elijah]: lest peradventure the spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley.
And he [Elisha] said, Ye shall not send. And when they [the sons of the prophets] urged him [Elisha] till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not” (2 Kings 2:16,17).
Without explaining why, the Pastor believed the Great Company would give a message to Israel, and Song 5:7-16 is a confirmation. Israel’s reluctance to listen to Christians will be reversed after the Church is gone and after the Great Company has first been wounded by the “daughters.”
The three-day search for Elijah fits in here. After seeing Elijah taken up in the whirlwind, Elisha inherited the mantle and crossed back over the Jordan. Song 5:7-9 precedes Elisha’s getting Elijah’s mantle and smiting the Jordan in 2 Kings 2:13,14. The “fifty prophets” and the “sons of the prophets” are similar to the “daughters of Jerusalem”—these “watchmen” are an enlightened class, i.e., the Holy Remnant. The “daughters” (natural Israel) ask why Jesus is so beloved.
(The “watchmen” may also include some Great Company from the nominal system who do not have as much light. They will be further enlightened by the Great Company who have been in present-truth circumstances.)
The current thoughts would be the same as those presented in the former study. If the daughters of Jerusalem are related to natural Israel, then in a sense, the watchmen and the keepers of the walls would change too (instead of being identified with nominal Christendom as in Song 3:3). Those who initially smite the Great Company will later experience a change of heart with regard to that class.
The time setting is yet future and fairly far down the stream of time. The Great Company will still be on the scene, and their last message will be effective in converting or strengthening the hand of the Holy Remnant class that potentially already exists in Israel.
A point will now be conjectured. The brotherhood as a whole are so sympathetic to the message to Israel “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” (Isa. 40:1) that they are not preparing Israel for the Holocaust yet to come. They are speaking too comfortably to Israel. As Gog, the great horde from the north, begins to assemble or be seen as a real threat, the Jews will feel indignant about the class who previously spoke “Peace, peace, peace” to them and did not prepare them for the imminent trouble. As a result, the Great Company class will experience shame for not disclosing that another wave of very severe and distressing persecution is coming upon Israel. While the Great Company class will be momentarily shamed, the “veil” being taken away by the keepers of the walls in verse 7 indicates that the shame, instead of overcoming them, will release within them a power and a force which they previously did not have. The Great Company will become charged, or energized. A confirmation is the picture of Elijah’s mantle coming down on Elisha. The “little sister” class will describe Jesus, the Messiah, in beautiful, wondrous terms. The language is superlative, but—alas!—the oil comes too late for them to enter in to the marriage. Momentarily they will experience shame and loss, but then will come a like portion of Elijah’s spirit.
What will happen then? Some in Israel will really catch the zeal and enthusiasm of the Great Company class. The reason the early Church was so successful is that the people saw the POWER in their witnessing and realized the message was genuine. As the Great Company experience tribulation and wash their robes, a very powerful message will come forth from them to help enlighten a significant minority in Israel that Jesus truly is their Messiah and to prepare that minority for Jacob’s Trouble. This element in Israel will be miraculously saved because God has destined a Holy Remnant. When the Kingdom starts, not only will the Ancient Worthies have come forth from the tomb physically perfect, but also a class of repentant Jews will be on the scene to constitute a government in Jerusalem from which can go forth the Word of the Lord.
Song 6:1 presents the attitude of those Jews who properly respond to the message of the Great Company: “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.” This was not the earlier attitude of the daughters of Jerusalem. Here the term “daughters of Jerusalem” cannot refer to those in the nominal Church, as in chapter 3, because Babylon will have been destroyed by this time. Earlier the “watchmen” and the “keepers of the walls” pertained to professed, nominal Christendom, but here the “daughters of Jerusalem” and the “watchmen” are related to Israel, who will be the “keepers of the walls” at that time. When the Great Company message is given to nominal natural Israel in the future, a class within Israel will respond and become interested in the message of truth.
This very portion of the Song of Solomon is apparently what Bro. Russell understood, but he introduced without explanation the subject of the Great Company’s giving a message to Israel. Although he did not treat the Song of Solomon as a whole or give a coherent theme, he did have a view near the end of his ministry. Perhaps the reason he did not share his view is that a few loose points remained and he did not want to overspeak.
Q: Then who gives the message “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people”?
A: This question would be another study, for Isaiah 40:1 has been misunderstood. The “double” in that context—specifically in Isaiah 40:2—is not the same as the “double” relating to a time period in Jeremiah 16:18. The Pastor said that at the death of Jacob in 1813 BC, God’s dealings changed from individuals to the nation of Israel. From 1813 BC to AD 33 was a period of 1,845 years of favor. AD 33 marked a fulcrum point for a “double” of another 1,845 years— but this time it was a period of disfavor, ending in AD 1878. This “double” is correct in the proper context, but in Isaiah 40:2, the Hebrew word kephel, translated “double,” is in the plural.
Concordances usually supply the Greek or Hebrew infinitive for a verb or the singular for a noun, whereas the actual original text can be another verb form or a plural noun. In Isaiah 40:2, the thought is of “many doubles,” and not of time parallels. That same Hebrew word kephel is used only once elsewhere in the Bible in the plural, and there it is talking about God’s wisdom, meaning the manifold wisdom of God. The citation is Job 11:6, “And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double [manifold, many] to that which is!” In the plural, the meaning has nothing whatsoever to do with a time period. To repeat, kephel, the Hebrew word, cannot refer to a time period when it is in the plural. When kephel is in the singular, it is an entirely different thought.
Speaking peace and “comfort” will be like the “feet of him” that stand on Zion, as it were, and proclaim a wondrous message to Israel in the future after Jacob’s Trouble (Isa. 52:7). The glorified Church will pronounce that message through the Ancient Worthies. Isaiah 40:1 corresponds to that time, circumstance, and message. On the other hand, Psalm 122:6 applies now: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” When we pray now for the “peace of Jerusalem,” we are praying for this wondrous future day to come. Zola Levitt is correct in applying this principle now.
However, as Christians, we should not concentrate on that message alone. We have to make our calling and election sure, so we should not allow that particular truth to burgeon so much that it preoccupies our whole attention. The Word of God and its instructions are more than just that one perspective.
The point is that the Great Company class will get the oil, and they will get Elijah’s mantle. When this happens, they will be very forceful and zealous, and will make themselves ready and fit for their inheritance of everlasting life on the spirit plane.
It is amazing that Bro. Russell saw this truth so many years ago. A brother, George Fisher, wrote part of what used to be called the Seventh Volume. In the first part of that Seventh Volume,
Clayton Woodworth explained the Book of Revelation predicated on comments from the Reprints and the Volumes. The title of the book was The Finished Mystery, but after the book was read, the mystery was still unfinished. Nevertheless, The Finished Mystery is profitable to study, even though it is not the answer. On the one hand, the comments that Bro. Woodworth took properly from the Reprints and applied to the Book of Revelation are helpful and connected (with the exception of Chapter 17). On the other hand, Bro. Fisher, not having enough information to rely on Pastor Russell for his explanation, went through the Song of Solomon verse by verse, word by word, and just inserted beautiful isolated thoughts with no overall picture or theme. The Pastor’s conclusion about the message to Israel based on the Song of Solomon was startling; it was enlightening in that it gave a prophetic portent to the book.
Moreover, the Song of Solomon is sequential in its content.
Q: Is the thought that at first, Israel will not warmly receive the Great Company’s message?
A: The Jews, especially those in Israel, will not warmly receive the message when they see that a Holocaust is coming and realize that the Great Company kept the information under cover.
Momentarily, the Great Company will be ashamed that they did not declare a complete message. Why did they refrain? Because to include information about the future Holocaust would have inhibited the popularity and growth of the message. However, what is happening is providential, for out of the momentary future shame will come a fullness of the Spirit, and the Great Company class will be faithful unto death. In their disappointment of realizing they cannot be members of the Little Flock, the Great Company will need something to grab onto. This loss will be assuaged or compensated for by Scriptures such as “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).
Q: Are the “daughters of Jerusalem” comparable to the “sons of the prophets” in 2 Kings 2?
A: Yes. Dispensationally speaking, the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable, the type of Elijah and Elisha, and the Song of Solomon account of the two classes who sleep and awake are all related. Details in one account help to unravel details in another account.
Every step of knowledge makes possible another step of grace. And taking that step of grace makes possible another step of knowledge, etc., etc. Knowledge and grace go hand in hand. Developing the graces (the fruits of the Spirit) would be making one’s calling and election sure.
Knowledge is the means to developing the graces. Chronology, types, etc., are all important, but the promises are what round out the Christian.
Q: Would the “city” in verse 7 be Jerusalem?
A: Yes. Israel will be the only stable part of the world at that time. Isaiah 60 and other chapters show that the world will be wild in confusion, but the light will begin to rise on Jerusalem. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:1-3).
The Great Company’s description of Jesus in verses 10-16 is so beautiful that many have attributed it to the Bride. The same is true of Elihu’s statements in Job. In fact, his speaking of and praising God and His attributes are couched in such grandiose terms that many brethren have concluded he pictures the Logos. Even some worldly people say that Elihu’s statements are the most beautiful part of the Bible; they praise the Book of Job because of its poetic value and then particularly single out Elihu’s comments. However, in between his statements are comments that nullify such a conclusion.
Song 5:9 What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?
The “watchmen,” the “daughters of Jerusalem,” will ask these questions of the Great Company. There are two applications, both of which are correct and progressive.
1. The “watchmen” and the “daughters of Jerusalem” are those of the Great Company class who come out of the nominal Church at the time of its fall. The more enlightened portion of the Great Company class, already out of Babylon, will praise the worthiness of Jesus to this less enlightened Great Company class. After Babylon falls, the Great Company from these two different backgrounds will be more wed together.
2. Other Scriptures indicate another “watcher” class at the end of the age. With Elijah and Elisha were 50 sons of the prophets who “watched.” Finally the sons of the prophets joined Elisha. After Elijah’s translation, the Elisha class knew that Elijah had been taken, but it took time for the sons of the prophets to be convinced. The very term “daughters of Jerusalem” implies a connection with natural Israel.
Verses 10-16 are the Great Company’s answers to the questions of verse 9. They describe Jesus’ qualities of excellence.
Song 5:10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
The Great Company refers to Jesus as “my beloved.” The countenance of the glorified, risen Lord beyond the veil is “white” (radiant, clear, bright). It reflects that he is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).
Jesus is also “ruddy.” Generally speaking, “ruddy” would refer to his pierced side, blood being a symbol of his faithfulness unto death. In other words, the risen Lord accomplished his ministry with faithfulness. But here “ruddy” describes Jesus’ countenance and is a symbol of health, as in apple-red cheeks.
Comment: In 1 Samuel 16:12, David was described as “ruddy”: “Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.”
Q: How can “white” be harmonized with “ruddy”? The two words are seemingly opposites.
A: A young person can have white flesh on his face but flushed cheeks when coming in from the cold. Jesus is fair and beautiful, but he also has the appearance of health and life.
Comment: The word “ruddy” is a reminder of Adam, which means “red.” Jesus is the Second Adam.
Reply: Jesus was the Second Adam at his First Advent as well as now, as the risen Lord. At his First Advent, Jesus was a perfect man, and a perfect man had to die in order to become the Second Adam as the Life-giver.
The term “ruddy” incorporates several thoughts. Health and virility were sacrificed on the Cross to obtain the health and virility of life that are to be given to the world. When Jesus died on the Cross, he earned the right to human life, the life rights that Adam had. Jesus will give those life rights to the world.
Comment: In regard to “white” and “ruddy,” the following comment was made in the 1976 study: “Not only was his face radiant, but his flesh looked healthy and somewhat masculine.”
Reply: Yes, and masculinity is the thought in 1 Samuel 16:12, the description of David out in the field. One who is exposed to the air many hours a day is strong, healthy, and virulent.
Jesus is the “chiefest [the preeminent one, the standard bearer] among ten thousand.” The “ten thousand” would be the Church, the 144,000, a multiple of thousands (Jude 14).
Song 5:11 His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
“His head is as the most fine gold.” A halo or golden glow is around Jesus’ head. A radiance surrounds angels as spirit beings, but Jesus’ radiance being “gold” would picture divinity. “His locks are bushy.” “Bushy” means curly, wavy, flowing. Jesus’ much hair represents his superior full and complete consecration to his Father. The “locks” are also a symbol of consecration and remind us of Ezekiel, who was figuratively transported to Jerusalem by a “lock” (singular) of his hair, a symbol of the singleness of his consecration (Ezek. 8:3).
“His locks are … black as a raven.” Black, being used here in a favorable sense, is a symbol of youth (gray hair pictures old age).
This beautiful description of Jesus shows:
1. If the Great Company class had been so inspired sooner, they would have made their calling and election sure.
2. If those whom God calls respond properly, they will be faithful unto death.
After the closing of the door, the consecration of the foolish virgins will become real and deep. At that time, they will be wise, and their vessels will be full of oil.
Song 5:12 His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
“His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters.” Jesus’ eyes being likened to those of a dove means they are sympathetic, compassionate, gentle, pure, and peaceable. Jesus is truly and sympathetically interested in his followers. This description is interesting when compared with the thought of his X-ray eyes being like “a flame of fire” and having a penetrating gaze (Rev. 1:14). Here in Song 5:12, the quality being emphasized is that Jesus’ followers can easily approach him, and he will look upon them with gentleness.
The term “rivers of waters” indicates Jesus’ eyes flow with sympathetic tears. He is easily moved to compassion. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15). At this time, when the Great Company will be washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb in the tribulation, Jesus will gently and forgivingly look into their souls. Washing their robes “in the blood of the Lamb” means they will get the necessary sensation of being acceptable (Rev. 7:14). To give a strong message, one must feel close to the Lord. “Rivers of waters” means Jesus is easily moved by the tears of the penitent one.
“His eyes are … washed with milk.” Jesus’ eyes are white, healthy, and pure, showing simplicity, sincerity, and approachability. “Milk” represents not only basic doctrinal truths but also basic qualities of character and wholesomeness.
Comment: Usually when one cries, the eyes get bloodshot but not with Jesus. The thought is that although his sympathetic tears flow, they are in harmony with principles of righteousness.
The Great Company will need to feel Jesus’ compassion, but they must also see where they have erred and will have to hold to his righteous standard.
Reply: Yes, the flowing tears wash Jesus’ eyes in harmony with the principles of truth. His forgiveness is predicated upon repentance and righteousness. His tears are the product of a principled character, and they flow on behalf of the penitent person and that person’s tears.
“His eyes are … fitly set.” To be handsome, one must not be cross-eyed or wall-eyed but have eyes that are “fitly set.” This trait shows purity of purpose and honesty of being. Jesus’ eyes are fitly set as gems in their enclosures. (A jewel not set properly can lose 90 percent of its beauty.) Jesus sees a matter perfectly and as it truly is. For example, after Peter’s three denials, Jesus’ look was powerful medicine. It resulted in Peter’s going out and weeping bitterly.
Song 5:13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweetsmelling myrrh.
“His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers.” Jesus’ cheeks are a symbol of health. The plural form “spices” indicates fullness and variety. Spices are used to preserve, to counteract odors, and to provide flavor. The aromatic aspect pictures curative, medicinal properties. Herbs are used extensively in homeopathic medicine. This description of Jesus indicates medicinal and health qualities as well as sweetness. Both spices and flowers are fragrant, the spices being stimulating and the flowers being pleasurable and sweet. Jesus’ cheeks are like the fragrance from trellised flowers or towers of perfume that spread abroad. His cheeks have a fragrance in close communion—a healthy, refreshing, and invigorating quality for one in communication with him.
Comment: What flowery language the Great Company is using to describe Jesus!
Reply: If consecrated to this degree earlier, they would be part of the Bride class. Some do not realize that everyone who is called can make the grade. We must have faith that the Lord is sincerely interested in us if we respond to his leadings and teachings. The invitation to the high calling is real and bona fide. These glowing comments by the Great Company class show us how they will develop. Circumstances of the time will either make or break the consecrated who remain behind. The development of the Great Company will be beneficial to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” who are watching and ask, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?”
“His lips like lilies, dropping sweetsmelling myrrh.” “Lilies” imply pure, delicate, life-giving (resurrection) qualities. Jesus suits his counsel to the needs of those who request his direction.
“Myrrh,” meaning “bitter,” is a sweet-flowing herb. In Hebrews 2:10, Paul said that Jesus needed to be perfected for the office of High Priest, “For it became him, … in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Jesus could be qualified, or perfected for office, only through suffering. The counsel that emanates from his lips is like sweet-flowing myrrh (wisdom). Through Jesus’ experience of being perfected as God’s official High Priest, he learned lessons in dealing with fallen mankind. These lessons will aid him, as the resurrected Lord, in giving counsel. He knows what counsel to give and how to give it. The words coming forth from his lips are not trivial but are medicinally beneficial. Taking medicine may not be pleasant, but the healing that results is sweet. This is especially true when a habitual fault is corrected.
Comment: Jesus’ counsel is pure, tender, and wise.
Reply: “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).
Song 5:14 His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
The RSV has, “His arms are rounded gold set with jewels; his body is ivory work encrusted with sapphires.” Thus his “hands” would be his forearms, that is, from the elbows to the tips of the fingers. Jesus’ forearms have a rounded golden effect, showing that his workmanship with his followers is gentle and soft—like the shepherd retrieving the lost lamb and cuddling it in his arms. His forearms are not muscular but gentle. The “gold rings” convey the thought of being rounded and gentle, with a soft firmness. Jesus’ hands are skilled like those of a weaver. His dexterous, skillful, rounded hands do perfect workmanship on the individual he is assisting (this would be the cassia quality—Exod. 30:24).
Comment: This verse proves that verse 10 was discussing Jesus’ countenance, not his body.
“His belly [that is, Jesus’ body] is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.” “Bright ivory” would be very white ivory that glistens; i.e., the exposed parts of Jesus’ body are of glistening, very white ivory. “Ivory” is a reminder not only of the ivory palaces whence he came and whence he returned (Psa. 45:8) but also of his noble qualities.
“His belly is … overlaid with sapphires [lapis lazuli].” Lapis lazuli is blue with gold pyrites in it, which calls to mind the blue sky with stars—the heavens. Hence Jesus’ body is overlaid with heavenly faithfulness. In other words, “His body is glistening ivory overlaid with lapis lazuli [draped in heavenly beauty].”
The blue can also be considered from another standpoint. “He [God] is faithful that [has] promised” (Heb. 10:23). That quality was developed in Jesus through his relationship with the faithfulness of his Father, for his character is like that of the Father in every sense. Also, he is faithful to those with whom he is dealing.
Song 5:15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
“His legs are as pillars of marble.” Stability is shown in the text “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out” (Rev. 3:12). “Pillars” are a symbol of strength, stability, support, and a staunch, dependable, reliable character. If a person is wobbly on his legs, his direction is affected. Jesus has a definite purpose. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Heb. 13:8). We can depend on him with all our heart, soul, and mind; he is next to the Father in worship.
His legs are “set upon sockets of fine gold.” A “socket” is a hole in which something is placed. In the Tabernacle arrangement, the tenons of each board fit into a hole in a socket. That socket base was sunk firmly into the ground so that just a little silver showed aboveground as a platform. The raised base or platform used today is a symbol of the socket that was sunk in the ground for stability.
“His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.” As the cedars of Lebanon were tall and erect, so Jesus has a stately bearing. One beholding Jesus would notice his stately mien and erect bearing, which indicate good character. The height of the cedars of Lebanon signifies that Jesus is “head and shoulders” over all others. Also, cedars emit a pleasant fragrance and thus have an invigorating influence. As one enters deeper and deeper into the redwood forest of California, the feeling of leaving the world increases. It is a feeling of being sheltered and separate. The padding of needles provides a deep silence.
Song 5:16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
“His mouth is most sweet.” In some translations, “mouth” is “palate.” The palate is used for taste, and it shapes the sound that comes forth. In other words, good and kindly thoughts are framed before utterance, so that Jesus’ words are delightful to hear. With us, too often we speak before thinking, and unpleasant words come forth.
“Yea, he is altogether lovely” is a summation of the description of Jesus in verses 10-16. Jesus is the sum total of beauty, of all the graces. “This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
Comment: After such a wonderful description, the “daughters of Jerusalem” will want to know Jesus.
Reply: Yes. The Holy Spirit will come strongly on the Great Company, but first, they will be despondent, crying and worrying about their relationship with the Lord. The disappointment will end up benefiting those who are rightly exercised. This secondary class will give a marvelous witness subsequently that will be especially helpful to the Holy Remnant. When the Kingdom is established, the order of blessing and status will be:
1. Spirit plane: Jesus, the Church, and the Great Company
2. Earthly plane: Ancient Worthies and the Holy Remnant, both of whom will be the nucleus of the Kingdom
(1988 and 1994 Studies)